How to Survive in Social Work



By Neil Thompson and John McGowan

Social work by its very nature is challenging and demanding work. But, in the current social, economic and political climate, it can prove extraordinarily difficult to keep your head above water. Written by two highly experienced social work professionals, this important book explores the significance of that context, offers guidance on how to survive despite it and even to aim for thriving within it. There are no easy answers, but there is much we can do to make sure that we are able to fulfil the potential and value of social work as a force for making our society a humane one without sacrificing our own health and well-being.


“Social work is one of the most misunderstood and difficult professions there is. It can be physically and emotionally draining, but it is also one of the most rewarding professions there is. Social work has been put under immense pressure, hit hard by years of austerity and forgotten when it comes to key/frontline workers in the coronavirus pandemic. In a world of increasing complexity and demands, where human connections and interactions are decreasing, social workers will be needed and valued more than ever before. Armed with this book you won’t just survive social work, but thrive in it too.”

Emma Lewell-Buck MP (former social worker), Member of Parliament for South Shields

“Ten chapters packed full of key strategies, guidance, insight and support that all social work students will find essential reading as they progress through their studies and into practice. SCRATCH and BEYOND are surely the new frameworks for students to pop into their growing toolkits! The language is easy to read and relatable, the content refreshing as it acknowledges the importance of reflective practice in an increasingly pressurized role – while recognizing that it is possible to not only survive, but also thrive in social work today! At the Student Social Work Hub we believe that’s what everyone should be aiming for.”

The Student Social Work Hub,

“This is a must-read for social workers and their employers. Social work is widely understood to be one of the most stressful jobs in the UK and beyond, meaning there is a clear need for books that outline the problem as well as methods for individuals, management and organizations to address the problem. This book does each of these things from an expert-informed and research-based perspective. I would recommend that social work professionals and employers read this book and use the stress management skills suggested for the betterment of individual well-being, which will subsequently improve outcomes for service users.”

Dr Jermaine M. Ravalier, Bath Spa University

“This welcome book is about more than survival, important though that is. It invites us to go beyond ‘good enough’ into a Nietzschean affirmation, a ‘saying yes’ to life and to social work, while remaining rooted in a realism that transcends both a deadening negativity on the one hand and a rose-tinted optimism on the other. And, as the authors so rightly remind us throughout, it is crucial that we do this collectively. So, buy, share, read, discuss this book together, with your team or at your trade union or professional association branch. Survive, and thrive, in solidarity!”

Guy Shennan, The Solution-Focused Collective

“An entirely readable and timely reminder of all we learned in our social work training, together with some contemporary critical thinking around why our work can be even more challenging in these difficult times, with practical advice on what needs to happen to help us all to thrive (not just survive!). Every social worker, at any stage in their career, should have a copy close to hand to dip into regularly and to remind us what a complex, but wonderfully interesting and rewarding job social work is!”

Lien Watts, Head of Advice and Representation, British Association of Social Workers


1. Free shipping is only available for UK book orders (excluding Pavilion publications). If you are based outside of the UK, please email [email protected] with details of your order.  A member of our team will process your order manually and apply the appropriate shipping fee dependent on the size of your order and the country you are ordering from.

2. Price is discounted to £14 per copy for orders of 5 or more copies.


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